Architectural Record Traveling Fellowships Awarded to Lea Oxenhandler and Benjamin Halpern
RECORD has announced the winners of its inaugural Architectural Record Traveling Fellowship competition, Lea Oxenhandler and Benjamin Halpern. In honor of the magazine’s 125th anniversary, Record is funding the travel expenses of these two young designers while they conduct research overseas, each pursuing a creative project that addresses architecture’s interdisciplinary applications.
Oxenhandler, 30, plans to combine her academic interest in the Japanese Metabolist movement that emerged in the aftermath of World War II with her interest in the housing market as she travels to Tokyo, Osaka, and Kyoto. After noting the drastic difference in the number of homeless in New York and Tokyo, Oxenhandler traced Japan’s lower rate to an abundance of temporary housing produced by the Metabolists, a movement she studied while pursuing her M.Arch. at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design.
“I’m often asked to think about ways of building really low-cost affordable housing in the neighborhoods where I’ve worked,” said Oxenhandler, currently an architectural fellow at the People’s Emergency Center, a community development nonprofit in West Philadelphia. “It will be interesting to see how these more disposable houses are designed and built, and to think about ways that we can borrow these ideas in the U.S.”
Meanwhile, Halpern, 29 and a designer at Para-Project, a New York–based collaborative architecture firm, will apply the fellowship’s resources to challenge the way cities market themselves with predetermined urban panoramas. Using the panorama as a theoretical framework—an idea he first explored in his master’s thesis at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design—he will travel through nine cities in Western Europe to develop alternative tourist literature.
“The way cities represent themselves claims you can learn the entire history of a city by following its official tourist itinerary,” Halpern says. “But you’re not going to learn anything that they don’t offer you.” In order to counter this reductive depiction of cities, Halpern will produce his own travel brochures, based on interactions with people and specific structures in each city.
Both Oxenhandler and Halpern will complete their trips before September 2018. They will have the opportunity to publish reports of their studies in Record.